Increasingly, I’ve had people ask me, both in person and in writing (via Facebook, primarily), what I will do if faced with a decision between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the general election. That question deserves a sober answer, and I will do my best today to achieve that. What I say won’t convince everyone, but it will be an honest response.
In the manner of good writing, as I teach my students, I begin with my thesis: I will never vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in a general election.
That stance will obviously raise genuine concerns and objections. I know, because I have raised the same concerns in the past. Let me provide that background and then do my best to explain my current position.
As a historian, I show my classes how a divided party and/or support for a third-party candidacy leads to someone else winning who might not have done so normally.
In previous elections, often saddled with a nominee I did not prefer, I would dutifully vote for that person anyway because the alternative was unthinkable. That’s why I voted for John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.
I’ve always maintained, though, that if I could see no difference between the candidates, and if the Republican candidate was going to destroy the basic principles in which I believe, that I would have to consider other options.
That’s where I am today.
I’ve often said, when speaking to Republican groups, that I am first and foremost a Christian, secondly a constitutionalist, and then a Republican, and I will remain a Republican as long as my Christian constitutional beliefs are fairly represented by the party and its leaders. With Donald Trump as the presidential nominee, I believe my views would no longer be an essential ingredient of Republican politics and policies.
I look at Hillary Clinton—for whom I could never vote, not only because of who she is but because of what her party stands for—and Donald Trump, and I see so little difference in the potential for disaster that I cannot, with a clear conscience before God, vote for either one.
The greatest objection is, of course, that it would be far more damaging to the country if a Clinton once again occupied the Oval Office. Surely, we are told, Trump can’t be nearly as bad as that.
I certainly have sympathy for that objection, and the prospect of a Hillary presidency sends chills down my Christian principled constitutionalist conservative spine. But after months of watching Trump’s antics, listening to his words (the same ones over and over), and reading his ongoing Twitter Tirade, I have concluded that he not only is just as awful as Hillary, but potentially more disastrous for the country.
I have written a litany of my concerns in other posts. I would recommend you go to my February 22 and March 14 posts (see the calendar on the sidebar for easy access), but I can summarize here:
- Trump’s personal character is abominable, both in the past and now. He is both immoral and amoral, depending on the circumstance, and has no concept of repentance and the need for God’s forgiveness for his many sins. Instead, he is an arrogant braggart of the worst variety.
- His past support for anti-Christian and anti-conservative policies and politicians is more the mark of the inner man than any current protestations of “conversion” to constitutional and conservative principles. He is basically unprincipled.
- He displays an unfettered bitterness toward anyone who questions him seriously (e.g., Megyn Kelly) and carries on a juvenile stream of consciousness on Twitter wholly unbecoming of a presidential candidate.
- He exemplifies the stereotype of the con artist who thinks he can sell to anyone, and unfortunately, with far too many of the electorate, he is proving his point.
- He thinks he is smarter than anyone else. When asked with whom he consults on foreign policy, his response was (and I quote): “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things. . . . But my primary consultant is myself and I have, you know, a good instinct for this stuff.” I kid you not.
Those are only the outlines of my issues with Trump. As I said, for more specifics, go to those other posts.
Further, I believe a Trump candidacy will destroy what remains of principle in the Republican party. Both Hillary and Trump will be bad for the nation, but only Trump can take down the party with him. When both parties are then corrupted, we may be facing our own American Armageddon.
I do not answer to any person for my vote. I answer to God only. If I cannot, in good conscience, justify voting for Donald Trump, I would be unfaithful to God if I proceeded to do so anyway. I could not live with that.
There is talk of the rise of another party to counter the Republicans should the inexcusable occur and Trump becomes the nominee. The only time in American history when that worked was when the Whig party, divided over the issue of slavery, bit the dust. Out of the ashes, another party emerged: it was called Republican.
If the current version of the Republican party fractures itself in the same manner as the Whigs did in the early 1850s, there is the possibility that a new party could rise up to take its place, but that is just speculation for now. I’m not yet ready to sign on for a new party; I would prefer that Republicans come to their senses instead.
This campaign season is not over. There still is a chance that Trump can be derailed on his way to party domination. No, the answer is not John Kasich.
He lives in the fantasy that everyone will turn to him in a contested convention. That will not happen. Even most Republicans are a little tired of him:
Our only hope is Ted Cruz, who is a strong Christian, who stands on principle, who believes in and defends the Constitution wholeheartedly, and who truly understands the conservative philosophy of government and life.
We’re told he cannot win enough delegates prior to the convention. That may be true. But if he wins enough to keep Trump from the magic 1237 number, the convention can then decide between the two, and it is still possible that principle will prevail and the Republican party won’t commit suicide.
By the way, when people say to me that not voting for Trump in a general election will guarantee a Clinton presidency, and that I will be to blame for that, my response is this:
No, your support of Trump in the primaries is what caused a Clinton presidency. You chose to jump on board a train that was destined to crash and burn. I am not to blame for that. Rather, you put me in a position where I could not conscientiously vote for a man who is uncategorically unfit for the office of the presidency. Before God, I could do no other than withdraw my support.
I come to this conclusion with a heavy heart, but we are not yet at the point of despair, or at least we shouldn’t be. The primary season looms before us still. Many states will make their choice between now and the convention. If we can avoid a Trump nomination, a Republican presidency, with a man who may be the best nominee the party has put before the voters since Ronald Reagan, is yet within reach.